Kentucky Derby Party raises $18,000 for Brandon clinic
BRANDON - Orb, the horse that rallied from far back to take first in the 2013 Kentucky Derby wasn’t the only winner on Saturday. Locally, the Kentucky Derby Party, a benefit for the Brandon Outreach Clinic, raised $18,000 to help provide health care for the uninsured. About 140 guests donated $75 each to take part in the excitement of the derby by watching the live broadcast from Churchill Downs on a large, widescreen TV wearing fancy dresses, suits and hats. The meeting room at Center Place was transformed into a mini indoor grandstand, complete with mint juleps, sweet tea and race programs. Donations also came through sponsorships and a silent auction to benefit the clinic, which is available to those who aren’t eligible for public health assistance but can’t afford to pay for basic medical care. Between 2,500 and 3,000 office visits are handled at the clinic, 517 N. Parsons Ave., each year.Guests munched on hors d’oeuvres, mingled, compared hats and suits or looked over programs and race odds. Although no wagering was permitted, most there had a horse or two in mind to cheer on. Due to early morning and afternoon rain, the track was muddy. “We’re going for number twelve; he’s a ‘mudder,’ good for running on a wet track like that,” said Ron Jordan, who attended the party with his wife, Becky. Dressed in a blue blazer, white shirt, white hat and yellow bowtie, Ron was voted “Most Dapper” by guests in 2012 and was going for the title for a second year. Around him, folks were dressed to impress. Making the event an interactive occasion is part of the appeal, said Debbie Meegan, Brandon Outreach Clinic executive director. She said the idea for the party sprang in 2011 from clinic volunteer Susan Sanders, who had gone to a friend’s party and thought it would make a good fundraiser. In 2011, about $18,000 was raised and in 2012 the event generated about $25,000. Each year, the event helps raise public awareness about the clinic. “Not a lot of people know we exist; it’s hard to get the word out to the people and this kind of thing creates awareness and it gets people to buy into helping the clinic,” said Meegan, in her twelfth year with the clinic. “I hope they (guests) will walk out of here with a desire to support our mission of providing much-needed healthcare to the uninsured.” As the pre-race rituals went on, guests hunkered down at their tables and watched intently, cheering, holding their heads, smiling or frowning. David Park, who was at the event with his wife, Connie, wasn’t quite sure how his horse, “Revolutionary,” fared just after the race. “Wow, I don’t know who won. But he sure came out of nowhere,” Park said. “What a race, what a fun event.” For information about the clinic, call (813) 654-1388 or see www.brandonoutreachclinic.com.